MONTPELIER, Vt. – The co-owner of a shuttered slaughterhouse who's accused of excessively shocking a calf pleaded not guilty Thursday to animal cruelty.
Frank Perretta, 51, of Grand Isle was freed on $10,000 bail on the condition that he not be around livestock.
Bushway Packing Inc. was shut down Oct. 30 amid allegations stemming from a Humane Society of the United States undercover video showing calves being kicked and poked with electric prods.
A review of the video by a veterinarian found three instances involving Perretta that should have resulted in federal regulatory action and one instance that was labeled "egregious inhumane handling," according to an affidavit from the Vermont attorney general's office.
In that case, a young veal calf is shocked as it is moved from a truck, down a ramp and into a holding pen, court papers said.
"The owner continues to shock the calf who falls down the ramp and goes down again, and once on the ground where he is prodded repeatedly then subsequently euthanized," the affidavit said.
Perretta is accused of shocking the calf about six times, then picking it up and shocking it again, court papers said. "After the calf is pushed out the door of the truck and falls again, Perretta shocks it another three times," the affidavit said.
After viewing the scene, Perretta said he didn't do anything wrong, the affidavit said. He said he grabbed a calf by the back of the hips to stand it up, gave it a couple of taps, and the calf staggered and fell against the trailer. When he realized the calf would not get up, he shot it, the affidavit said.
He faces up to a year in prison or a maximum fine of $2,000 or both if convicted. A message left for Perretta's lawyer was not immediately returned.
A former worker at the slaughterhouse, 37-year-old Christopher Gaudette of Grand Isle, also has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and one felony count of aggravated cruelty.